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TV Review: The Walking Dead - Season 8, Episode 13

03.26.2018by: Cody Hamman

Season 8, Episode 13: Do Not Send Us Astray

PLOT: Now led by Simon, the Saviors attack the Hilltop, armed with weapons meant to infect the wounded.

REVIEW: There have been several action-oriented episodes during the eighth season of AMC's The Walking Dead, which is a necessity when the theme of a season is "All-Out War", and Do Not Send Us Astray is another episode built around confrontations between warring communities. But while a lot of the action this season just didn't click with me for one reason or another, I found this episode to be more engaging than some of the seemingly endless gunfights that have preceded it.

The setting is the Hilltop community, where new leader Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is getting an high approval rating despite admitting that she has been purposely trying to lure the villainous Saviors there so she can kill their leader Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). But Negan isn't around by the time the Saviors raid the Hilltop in this episode, he was knocked off course by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and is now off somewhere else waiting for a resolution to the cliffhanger ending he received in last week's episode. The Saviors who attack the Hilltop are following Negan's former right hand man Simon (Steven Ogg), whose plan to bring a "proper slaughtering" to the place is definitely going against what Negan would want. So here's why the action in Do Not Send Us Astray was more effective for me: Simon has established himself as a despicable scumbag, and it was fun to see his assault on the Hilltop go quite wrong for him and his followers. There have been too many bullets flying around this season, but it's not so bad when they're flying in the direction of this particular bunch of Saviors.

The attack isn't a total loss for Simon's group, though. For one thing, Simon manages to live to fight (and hopefully die) another day, but there also happened to be two stages to the attack, and the second stage is more devastating for the people gathered together at the Hilltop - residents of not just the Hilltop, but also of the Kingdom and Alexandria communities. That's because the Saviors were using a tactic set up a couple episodes back, attacking with blades and arrows that had been slathered with the blood and guts of zombies. Those who are wounded by those weapons fall ill, and several of them die and become zombies themselves, leading to an unexpected outbreak of the living dead within the Hilltop during the middle of the night. Taking the fight to this biological warfare level was a clever move on the parts of both the Saviors on the show and the writers who came up with the idea.

The good guys lose more members during this episode, but I'm not sure how much of an impact these losses are going to have on viewers. Most of the victims are just random residents, while another is a character who hasn't had a lot to do in the last couple seasons. Introduced in season five, Tobin (Jason Douglas) was an Alexandria resident who was engaged in a romantic relationship with Carol (Melissa McBride) at one point - a relationship which happened so long ago, I wouldn't be surprised if most viewers had forgotten it even happened. Thankfully, it's a relationship that is addressed and given some closure before Tobin, who basically became a glorified extra after Carol left Alexandria back in season six, makes his exit from the show.

Another ill-fated character is a doctor named Dana (Peggy Sheffield), who has only been referenced in the past; she's from the Kingdom, and King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) once said he had "a woman of talent" working as his community's doctor. The fact that she is now hanging out at the Hilltop makes the desperate attempt made by Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) to get Dr. Carson back to the Hilltop seem even more pointless than it seemed by the end of the episode Dead or Alive or... Her presence in this episode almost seems like the show regretted having that reference to her before, and needed to introduce her just to kill her off so Siddiq (Avi Nash) can officially become The Only Medical Hope he has been getting built up as.

The only downside to this attack on the Hilltop for me is the fact that Tara (Alanna Masterson) also happened to be wounded by a Savior weapon. She hasn't turned yet, but there's a chance she might. I really hope she doesn't, because I like having her around on the show, especially now that she's sticking up for Dwight (Austin Amelio), starting to trust that he really has turned against the Saviors. There was some backlash against Tara after the Dead or Alive or episode, with viewers feeling she was being a hypocrite when it comes to Dwight's change of heart. She was accused of having forgotten that she herself was once aligned with a major villain on the show, the Governor, and was then able to see the error of her ways and be accepted by the people her leader was attacking. Here it is made clear that she hasn't forgotten her past; it's another piece of continuity, like Tobin's relationship with Carol, that I'm glad was addressed.

There were some disappointing events in Do Not Send Us Astray, but I'm looking forward to seeing what those will lead to. It was annoying to see that Morgan (Lennie James) is now hallucinating the ghost of a fallen Savior, though. I'm not so enthusiastic to see where that's going. In the meantime, I was glad to be entertained by this episode. 

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: The whole "zombie outbreak at the Hilltop" portion of the episode was pretty enjoyable, but I especially liked those dark and creepy moments right at the beginning of the outbreak, when the dead begin to rise around 3:30am and start picking off victims.

GORY GLORY: Plenty of people get killed or wounded in the battle, then there are zombies munching on people and getting speared in the head, but nothing really stood out to me as being gloriously gross. My favorite zombie kill was when Jesus (Tom Payne) kicks a walker against a wall and holds it in place with his leg so Michonne (Danai Gurira) can stick her sword through its head.

FAVORITE SCENE: The living dead have a feast at the Hilltop.

FINAL VERDICT

Extra Tidbit: What did you think of Do Not Send Us Astray?

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